Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Wonder

ThinkingSo, today I was supposed to have an appointment but it didn't end up happening. Texan Papa was going fishing and I needed a daytime sitter for Sally and Violet. I don't know about any other Stay-At-Home moms out there, but I have a terrible time finding someone who's available to watch my kids during the day. You'd THINK I'd have a whole gang of moms who I'm tight with and we'd swap watching each other's kids. But, ah, not so much. All my mom friends are more like acquaintances, no one I feel like hitting up for babysitting if it's not a life-or-death emergency. All the moms on my street either work full-time or go to school full-time. I don't really know any retired ladies around here, but even if I did, I am not sure they'd be able to keep up with a toddler and a baby. It would be awesome if I knew a college student to ask, but I don't. All the college-age kids from my church go to school out of town. And the local college is huge, but I don't know a soul there.

And, bottom line, no matter who the person is, I just really don't feel comfortable asking them to come to my house and take care of my kids if I don't know them fairly well. It's not that I'm distrustful, I'm just really careful, as I believe I should be.

I asked one of my friends if she could do it, and she replied that she couldn't because she was going to a kids' activity with 2 of our other friends and their kids.


Well, that's a feeling that I haven't experienced for a while. Felt like I was standing on the third base line, staring at two separate groups of 10-year-olds, waiting for my name to be called to join a team for kickball. Waiting... and waiting... and realizing that really, no one wanted me to join them.

I am not whining or pouting, I know I have friends. And this particular friend has treated me like a close friend in the past, sharing personal information and telling me how much she likes me. But I am wondering, when it comes to making plans to go out, at what point will I no longer be the friend who's the afterthought? When, exactly, will I have a group of friends who regularly call me and include me in their circle? I guess the more accurate question is this: when will the time come that I have friends who want me to be there as much as I want to be there with them?

Maybe it's a friendship skill that I just don't possess. Some people just spend their whole lives having tons of acquaintances and never have any close friendships, but I don't see myself that way. I really WANT to have a close friend, but I try to respect limits. I don't want to constantly call the other person; I want it to be reciprocal. I don't want to always be the one suggesting activities; I'd like to be the one who's invited along instead of being the one who does the inviting.

It's just weird. I'm 38 and yet I feel like I'm 8 all over again. As a child I stood there and watched the other girls, wishing with every ounce of my heart that they'd ask me to come over and play. But they never did. And looking back, I think if I'd gone over there and said, "Hey do you mind if I play too?" they probably would have said, "Okay. Sure!" And even now, if I had said to my friend, "Hey, I didn't know you guys were going out today. Do you mind if I come along too?" I'm sure she would have said it was fine. But still, I wish I were welcomed into their group instead of forcing my way in. I would be wondering the whole time if they felt like I was an interloper and, once I was gone, their group would be back to its regular parameters.

I may be a little paranoid. But I do wonder.

Photo from Federico Coppola on Flickr via Creative Commons.

Texan Mama


Jules from A Little Bite of Life said...

I am sorry that you are feeling this way. It is hard at 8, 38, or even 43. I have many acquintances, and several close friends, but I am okay with that. The only thing I can tell you is that if you want friends, you need to make the effort and find them. Join a local moms club (momsclub.org) You will meet other moms like you, join play groups, and find a great support system, so you have people to count on when you need them. I promise. When my son was younger, moms club was my lifeline. You can also find stay at home moms at local libraries and book stores (that have story time.) Please let me know how you do! Hang in there!

Foursons said...

You must have been a fly on my wall last week. Were you? Because this was so where I was and am still struggling with.

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

Jules, would you believe I *am* a member of a moms club and these 3 friends are all in the moms club with me? We've all known each other for 2 and a half years.

I guess I must have B.O. or something. LOL

Aunt Crazy said...

Do y'all have mother's day out at your church? That may be something to look into so that you can take care of appointments or other things during that scheduled time.

Moving on to the friendship thing. I do not have many friends. I know eleventy billion people. I'm outgoing, I'm friendly, I've never met a stranger, yet, I do not have a big circle of friends. Mostly by choice because I can not tolerate the drama that most friendships involve. BUT...I have to ask, how big is your personal space? How self-protective are you? How easy are you to get to know? How open and friendly are you with the people you'd like to be friends with? Personally, I think people who get hurt by not being included are hard to include (sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes) and those that are not including you are probably not doing that on purpose. Most likely, it's lack of thinking about everyone they know and who lives where and who has what aged children, etc. Sadly, I know what Julie is referring to and I hurt her. I didn't mean to and at first, it was really hard for me to understand WHY she was even hurt, but I see now. No one intentionally hurt her or left her out, but it happened anyway. So, it makes me wonder, did something similiar happen with your group? Were you left out unintentionally?

p.s. I can't smell you from here :)

Jennifer said...

I love you and think you should move here. I'll find a sitter lickty split for you and invite you to all of my girls night outs. :)

Hot Tub Lizzy said...

I so hear you on the friends thing. I want a BEST friend... sigh.

Little idea for you - does your church have a college group? So... kids that are going to your local college and have decided to join your church? I too had a hard time finding someone I trusted with my kids, and asked the guy who works with the college age kids if he knew of anyone and he gave me a BUNCH of great names. And I used them all, and they were all WONDEFUL!!!!

Amy said...

Oh, gosh. I feel you so much. This has been my life story. I don't think there are any easy answers. Sorry. Just know you are not alone. Sorry I'm not more help.

lovemyabbie@gmail.com said...

Thanks for the post and reminder that we go through this at some point. When we moved to our neighborhood everyone was so nice, kids to play with, friendly parents etc. My husband made friends right away, they do a "man date" once a month but I still feel like I'm waiting to click with the mom's. We've lived here 4 years. They are friendly when we are all out playing, let their kids come over to play with mine, come for parties etc at our place, but seem to not return the invites. I see them going out once in a while and just wonder what's wrong with me. In the end I'd be happy if they would ask my daughter over to play as often as we ask theirs and never call me for a girls night though. But either way it's tough. Sorry for the rambling response

Hang in there!

Bridgett said...

We have all been there. I am sometimes mystified by other moms just like I was mystified by other 5th graders.

I have finally found the poor grad student I've known since she was 9 who is desperate for babysitting money and has day hours. BEcause until she called me? I was begging and depressed about it. My mom wouldn't even watch my kids anymore.

Eat. Live. Laugh. and sometimes shop! said...

Isn't it sad we age and yet still deal with the same ole issues. I've been there too - wishing someone would call and ask to socialize, go to lunch or anything. Anything!

I've found that I have to constantly make the plans, though, if I want to have any. Turns out all women are insecure and lots just won't take the initiative despite me repeatedly doing so.

Find a sitter at your local college or church and start organizing fabulous outings. Everyone will want to join you and be your bestie!

Gigi said...

I think a lot of us have been there - both on the babysitting thing and the friend thing. I'm no help when it comes to finding sitters - we just pretty much juggled until he was big enough to take care of himself (sad, I know). The friend thing though....sometimes I think people are unintentionally thoughtless. Were these moms friends longer? that may be part of it. I've also come to realize that with some people - you have to be the one to push the relationship - that they don't feel comfortable being the ones to initiate anything. I have a couple friends like that.

You know - if you'd just move here you wouldn't have to worry about these things anymore. Don't you want to be known as Tarheel Mama??

Emily said...

I've been there. And on the flip side too. And when I was on the flip side I remember feeling like a bonehead for not asking my friend to come along. Hopefully your friend feels the same way.

rach said...

Well I have to say that I know EXACTLY how you feel. I have always felt like the outsider. Always felt like the last to be picked and the first to be picked on. My sister was the social butterfly. growing up the phone was ringing off the hook for her and i would be shocked to get a phone call from a school friend. It was hard, it felt lonely, and to be honest sometimes I STILL feel that way.
I've grown, I've made lots of friends and I have people all over the country and all over the world that I can call a friend and go visit! but...sometimes I am still SO lonely. I see other people and see the groups of friends that they are always around and I am jealous...and sad. I wonder why I can't be a part of that- what lacks within ME?? but reality and my thoughts are different.

When I moved to Ireland I had a group of friends over here, small but important. My husband was part of a large group of close knit friends and I was DETERMINED to make friends. And I have- I was never forceful, but I always took up opportunities to see people and i say about 90% of the time I am the one texting people for coffee or calling to see who wants a night out. I have had people come up to me and say you know what no one EVER texts me except you! (these are people who are always going out as well- it surprised me)
I've had people say to me you are always up for anything and you always keep in contact- thats awesome!Its made me feel better. Yes I have had to be the one to reach out, and yes sometimes I want people to text and call ME- not the other way around. But its been paying off. People do call and text me. not all the time, but enough. It still sucks sometimes, and I don't think I will ever lose that feeling of inadequacy but I know the only way to fix it is to face it head on. for myself at least.

and you know what? I think that your friends probably have never even considered that you felt this way. You seem to be an extremely intuative person to me. Its so hard to be so attuned sometimes. when you are you seem to notice things that others pass by without ever seeing. its a blessing and hardship all at the same time. I hope things get better for you and know that you aren't the only one out there!

Anna See said...

Wow. I feel like this EVERY DAY. I was going to write a post on it this week but I couldn't figure out how to sum it up. You did.I feel that I distance myself in some way from people b/c I can never seem to break through to a level of closeness-- dropping by, hanging out watching ea. other's kids kind of closeness, going out to dinner as couples, going to 40th bday parties kinds of closeness.

Prairie Mother said...

So many of us who feel like this...why can't we all live in the same place? Funny, I blogged about this very topic (no friends) just last week. I know there are places to meet other SAHM's but sometimes it's really hard to break the ice and build a relationship with another mom. I'm right there with you too.

Fabulously written Texan Mama...but still sorry you had to write about it :(

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

Maybe she knew about your appointment and so they knew you couldn't go and so they just didn't tell you.

Stacey said...

I really do feel your pain. Why does it seem after all we have accomplished we still feel 12 sometimes. It is sad and funny all in the same instant. I have been in your shoes repeatedly in the last few months and it is tough!!

I second a Mother's Morning Out program. My boys go one morning a week and you would not believe all I can accomplish in 4 hours!!

SuzyQpon said...

I know exactly how you feel. My husband and I have friends who either have older children or don't have children so it's hard for us with a 2 year old. There are TONS of kids in our neighborhood but all of the moms are SAHM and you would not believe the clique status of these GROWN women! I have been told flat out that I'm not one of them b/c I work FT outside of the home. Ridiculous but true. I'm trying the moms group route but that has been tough too since I can't do all of the mid-week activities. Oh well.

Crystal said...

OMGosh-did you pull this out of my head??!!?? I fell this way ALL THE TIME! I desperatly want super close girlfriends, to be invited to the girl's night out, to be called to go out for coffee. BUT NO!! I sit at hom :( I'll be your buddy!!! But wait! You're in TEXAS and I'm in SD. Not gonna work-I feel your pain. 100%-hit the nail on the head.

Swizz said...

It IS funny how we can get to 38 and still feel this way. I've felt this way a LOT since I moved to town with my identical twin. Are people MY friends, or just think of me as her sidekick? It can make you feel fragile and paranoid, all at the same time! Sometimes I wonder if people are intimidated. If you seem like you have it all together (and you DO seem like this) then they think you already HAVE friends and a life and don't need them bugging you to hang out.

I'm SO glad I met you! If we lived in the same town I would LOVE to switch babysitting time with you! That is the mark of a true friend. One you trust your children with, and will love on THEIR children when they are absent. Hang in there! And keep asking people to do things...they are probably feeling the same way you are. Just ask all of the above commentators!


Swizz said...

Want to hear the irony? I pushed "publish" on my last comment just as the phone rang. My sister asking if I can help her out because someone invited her to go hear someone speak at the University. (Someone I would LOVE to hear speak, BTW.) JM and I have a play date this afternoon...it would cause me to have to cancel the play date (our first in a LONG time since we're now homeschooling) in order to run her kids around town. (deep breath) Why is it that I couldn't be invited? Once again that deep down feeling of being left out. Ick.

Shannon said...

Hey! Just putting this out there, not sure if it applies... I only have one child so my ideal outing is with a friend and one of her kids. I have another friend who has 5 kids but we rarely do things together unless it's with 1 or 2 of her kids. I can't handle the herd! Being it was during the day that probably doesn't apply...

Frugal Vicki said...

I am very insecure when it comes to friendships, and I often feel left out and sad....which is why I shelter myself and don't have a ton of friends. I should work on this.
And I am the same way about babysitters.
But I can tell you that if your friends were doing it and purposely not inviting you, they would not have mentioned it to you. Maybe they thought you were busy already?

Sturgmom said...

I always felt like that in the last place we lived, but I just figured it was b/c I worked (part-time) so no one ever thought to ask me to do things.

Now I don't really know any other moms. So no way to feel left out! ;)

Wendy said...

I'm reading the comments & thinking that this feeling must be a lot more common than I realized. I've moved to a new area where there are lots of other newbies, and it seems like they are all grouping up somehow... and I'm not. It didn't help that I was sick for 4 weeks, or that the ONE time I was invited somewhere both kids were home sick from school...

But it is a crappy feeling, that people don't think of you.

You know what is a good feeling? The other day I met a lady I immediately liked a lot, and she told me she has felt this way since she got here (18 months before I did). I was thinking, "note to self... invite her along!"

B said...

I relate to this post all too well. I thought by now I would have figured out how not to be the outsider looking in or when I am included, feeling like the 5th wheel. I try not to let it bother me but really, it would be nice to be somebodies first choice, not an afterthought or just to actually be asked for once. Even when I'm the one who initiates I feel the hesitation.

I just hope that my kids figure out how to make (and keep) friends easier than me.

kris said...

Someone once gave me a good piece of advice.

When you don't want to do something? When you are afraid of doing something?

Behave "as if" the opposite were true.

Pretend a little bit until the role-playing is no longer necessary.

I have found that's the only way I can make new friends . . . to behave as if I am not terrified of being rejected. To behave as if I am an outgoing and friendly person just naturally. To behave as if I am confident of my value in a friendship.

Seriously. It works.

Plus also?

I am always more comfortable when I am in charge of an activity. I have hosted so many craft events and coffees and books clubs and parties and events of all kinds. And while I am busy behaving "as if" I am the woman who would love to do all of these things?

I find I more and become the woman who ho loves to do all of those things.


I feel for you.

I have been where you are.

Take control.

Behave as if you have control.

And then you will.

Kim said...

1st, I totally agree w/ what Kris said. 2nd, I have so felt this way. One day, I guess I was so fed up with it, that I just burst out with, all sarcastic like, "Well, and thanks for inviting me!" my friend said, "you really want to come??" b/c they assumed I didn't. It became a joke. Now if we don't include someone by accident, that person is all, 'ohh, thanks for inviting me' etc. I guess I was being stand off-ish than I thought in an effort to maintain 'boundries.' Screw boundries. We're moms who need other mom-friends who can feed our kids at the drop of a hat.
Also? The name Violet ROCKS. My 7 year old is named Violet. You have amazing taste.

The Sweetest said...

Ugh. I know how you feel. I am the same age, and it seems like the older I get the harder it is to make friends. Yes, I have old friends, from college and beyond, but they all live in... Texas! And I am out here in la la land. I have exactly two friends. Two. Let's move the the same city and hang out together.

Kmama said...

Oh, this so hits home for me. I'm someone that doesn't like to have a ton of acquaintances. I want those go to people i can count on for everything. I don't care if that means I only 1 or 2 or 3 of them. But the hard part is finding those 1 or 2 or 3 people.

Stopping by from Pretty All True.

Renee said...

I'm 54. Still there. Where you are.
I'm a loner by nature. But sometimes? It'd be nice to be included. My closest relationships, other than family, seem to be online right now. Stopped by via Pretty All True.

Grace said...

oh yes. i know this feeling all too well! I don't think we ever grow out of that little 8 year old girl living inside of our grown up bodies.

I have always craved a close friendship, and it's never really happened for me. I have a couple, but life circumstances have come between us (namely, miles) I have mom friends I hang with regularly, but the main thing we have in common is our kids. And not much else.

I have kind of accepted that my close friend is, and always will be, my husband. And that is amazing. & beautiful. & rare. So i'll take it.